Links 11/15/17

U.S. pumpkin growers toast nontraditional demand for fruit Reuters (E. Mayer).

Drug-resistant ‘nightmare bacteria’ show worrisome ability to diversify and spread Harvard School of Public Health

Do Facebook and Google have control of their algorithms anymore? A sobering assessment and a warning Poynter Institute

China and the CIA Are Competing to Fund Silicon Valley’s AI Startups Defense One (Re Silc).

Taming the masters of the tech universe Martin Wolf, FT

American car buyers are borrowing like never before—and missing plenty of payments, too Quartz. Chart.

Venezuelan Debt Now Has the Vultures Circling NYT

Zimbabwe army denies military takeover in live address on state TV CNN. That’s a little meta…


The EU is preparing to delay the next stage of Brexit negotiations Business Insider

May wins first 5 votes on EU withdrawal bill in committee despite Tory backlash over fixing Brexit date – as it happened Guardian

How the EU (Withdrawal) Bill could change the course of Brexit Politico

David Davis promises City of London special post-Brexit travel regime FT

Brexit: Failure to introduce new customs system by date of Britain’s EU withdrawal would be ‘catastrophic’ Independent

Trump, Brexit and Echoes of World War I Bloomberg

The Catalan Integral Cooperative: An Organizational Study of a A Post-Capitalist Cooperative (PDF) Commons Transition


The Machiavellian Prince: Welcome to Salman Arabia Al Jazeera (Re Silc).

Saudi Arabia beheads first female robot citizen Duffel Blog

Raqqa’s dirty secret BBC

How Trump’s CIA Used Bin Laden Files and a Neocon Think Tank to Escalate Tensions With Iran Ben Norton, Alternet

Officials raise Iran-Iraq earthquake death toll to at least 530 Guardian

Iran-Iraq earthquake live blog IRIN

North Korea

China to send special envoy to North Korea South China Morning Post

New Cold War

On The Origins of Russia-gate (PDF) Joe Lauria (YY). This is the article that HuffPo instantly surppressed, as per Lauria’s petition: Tell the HuffPost to Restore My Censored Article Yves: “Please urge readers to sign!”

3 takeaways from the Donald Trump Jr.-WikiLeaks revelations Mic

Secret Finding: 60 Russian Payments “To Finance Election Campaign Of 2016” Buzzfeed. Big if true.

* * *

AP Explains: What’s the deal with the Uranium One deal? AP

New Jersey man sentenced for role in Russian uranium bribe scheme Reuters (E. Mayer).

Trump Transition

Senate GOP changes tax bill to add Obamacare mandate repeal, make individual income cuts expire WaPo

GOP tax bill could spur $25 billion in Medicare cuts: CBO The Hill

Trump and big business collide as NAFTA teeters WaPo

Senate confirms Bradbury after fight over ‘torture memos’ Politico

Senate confirms Lyft manager for No. 3 post at the Transportation Dept The Hill

Appointing a second special counsel could rattle Justice Department WaPo

Why Is It So Hard to Fix the National Flood Insurance Program? Weather Underground

The emergence of two presidents named Donald J. Trump McClatchy. Foreign and domestic.

$300 Billion War Beneath the Street: Fighting to Replace America’s Water Pipes NYT. Where’s that infrastructure spending?

Sex in Politics…Not!

‘Nothing about it felt right’: More than 50 people describe sexual harassment on Capitol Hill CNN (Re Silc). Hold onto your hats, folks….

* * *

National Republican move against Roy Moore grows — but key Alabama Republicans are not joining in WaPo

LISTEN: Curious Robocall Seeks ‘Damaging’ Information On Moore WKRG. “Hi, this is Bernie Bernstein [!!], I’m a reporter for the Washington Post….” Parallelism of great minds, I guess.

Limbaugh: Moore was a Democrat at time of sexual misconduct allegations The Hill

‘One of the most secretive, dark states’: What is Kansas trying to hide? Kansas City Star

2016 Post Mortem

Was the Democratic primary rigged? Ezra Klein, Vox. Moving from denial to bargaining? “The 2016 Democratic primary wasn’t rigged by the DNC, and it certainly wasn’t rigged against Sanders. But Democratic elites did try to make Clinton’s nomination as inevitable, as preordained, as possible.” Well, “rigged” is just a word…

Democrats in Disarray

This Democrat Is About To Give Payday Lenders A Big Boost HuffPo. Mark Warner. Disarray, or altogether too well-arrayed.

Follow The Money: Drug Industry Campaign Contributions Tarbell

Health Care

Famed health economist Uwe Reinhardt dies Modern Healthcare

Death by Gun Violence—A Public Health Crisis JAMA

How One Las Vegas ED Saved Hundreds of Lives After the Worst Mass Shooting in U.S. History Emergency Physician Monthly (DK). DK: “Flow is king.”

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

The NSA needs to stop hacking The Week. Important.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Congressional Realists ‘Could Caucus in a Phone Booth’ The American Conservative

Class Warfare

Global Wealth Report 2017: Where Are We Ten Years after the Crisis? Credit Suisse

Barbara Ehrenreich: Worker Abuse Is Rampant, and Sexual Harassment Is Just the Start Slate

Tesla factory workers have filed a lawsuit claiming widespread racism, unsafe conditions CNBC. Makes you wonder if 260 cars a month is a ceiling, not a floor.

Overnight in Walmart Parking Lots: Silence, Solace and Refuge NYT

What Red States Are Passing Up as Blue States Get Billions NYT. “… taxpayers in Texas are helping to fund treatment for patients with opioid addiction in Vermont….” No, they’re not. Federal taxes do not fund Federal spending.

Meet the People Who Listen to Podcasts at Super-Fast Speeds Buzzfeed. Zzt-zzzt-zzt-zzzzzzzt!

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Marco

    Does anyone here dispute Russian STATE meddling in the election? 60 payments – $380K total is a pittance. I can only imagine what the US spends meddling in other elections. How is this a big deal?

    1. The Rev Kev

      Pikers! Back in August, Russian Foreign Minister Maria Zakharova in an interview with TASS said; of course, it is strange that in Washington they forget that on the eve of presidential elections in Russia in 1996, the Federal reserve Bank under false pretenses imported into the U.S. Embassy in Moscow $500 million in cash. Some nights the staff of the Embassy of the CIA, headed by Michael Sulik literally slept on bags of cash, protecting them, until the money was exported out of the Embassy in cars, private parties and some individuals.

      1. Darthbobber

        This one seems to take one common estimate ($500 million) of the total spent on the Yeltsin campaign (striking enough, since the legal limit for spending on a candidate’s behalf was roughly equivalent to $3 million), and just toss in for picturesque value having it all come through the US embassy in bags of cash.

        Generally, the bulk of the money was thought to have been raised from oligarchs and oligarchs-in-waiting, who needed the reelection of Yeltsin to complete the looting. There was a team of American advisors running the media campaign, and considerable in the way of black ops directed against opposition activity. There was also suppression of the opposition press and a monopolization of state media 24/7 by the Yeltsin campaign.

        Oh, and a parachuting of imf money just in time to pay a bunch of back wages right before election day.

        But as to bags of cash in the US embassy, that particular version seems to have no reputable sourcing. Not that such a thing is needed to establish significant American (more than) meddling in that election.

        1. blennylips

          Oh yes indeed! They were so proud of the operation they made a comedic movie about it, just to gloat:

          Spinning Boris (2003)
          Russian political elite hires American consultants to help with President Yeltsin’s re-election campaign when his approval rating is down to single digits.
          Director: Roger Spottiswoode
          Writers: Yuri Zeltser, Grace Cary Bickley (as Cary Bickley)
          Stars: Jeff Goldblum, Anthony LaPaglia, Liev Schreiber

    2. Louis Fyne

      even assuming literally that every allegation against Russia is true, then the natural consequence is that entire intelligence bureaucracy who was employed in 2016 needs to be fired and replaced with new blood, Clapper and Comey need to be investigated for negligence, and the $100+ billion intelligence budget needs to be axed and replaced with $80,000 in Facebook ads and an intern who tweets photos.

      And of course Vlad Putin is a James Bond villain who needs to open a DC media firm after he gets tired of pulling the world’s strings.

    3. Jim A.

      Well there’s really no doubt that they tried. But $380k isn’t even a rounding error on election spending these days. We’d have to assume that they were astonishingly more effective than all the other people and organizations pumping money into the election, much of it hidden, to think that they actually made a difference.

    4. Olga

      “Secret Finding: 60 Russian Payments “To Finance Election Campaign Of 2016” Buzzfeed. Big if true.”
      Or not… Russia held parliamentary elections in Sept. 2016, and apparently the money was intended to set up voting at its embassies for Russians living abroad … like many other countries do. The article even mentions this, but … one has to scroll way, way down…
      We probably should not take everything that appears in Buzz at face value.

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        And just to make things more “secret” and covert, they marked the transfers “to finance election campaign of 2016.” It’s been a year and they’ve just figured this out?

        Oh, and the transfers (total $380,000) went to Russian embassies ” in almost 60 countries from Afghanistan to Nigeria between Aug. 3 and Sept. 20, 2016.”

        Swindling Nigerian “princes” supported Trump, defeated hillary and are subverting our democracy at the personal direction of the Kremlin and Putin. Send the army into Aftrica!!! Oh…..wait…

      2. mpalomar

        “Big if true”
        Or as big as the balloon the media can pump.
        The stunning disproportional hand wringing over alleged Russian interference in the US 2016 election compared to the nonchalance regarding ongoing massive infusions of private money into the US election process through legally constructed revenue streams from the billionaire class and corporate citizens is an indication of how dangerously warped the media is.

      3. JerseyJeffersonian

        We probably should not take anything that appears in Buzz at face value.

        As the internet cliche has it, there, fixed it for ya.

    5. Bittercup

      That Buzzfeed Russian bank transfers article is just absolutely amazing, the very apex of its genre. It ever so gently smothers the actual explanation under 7 pillowy paragraphs of fluff and misdirection. And it’s working, too! Judging by some reactions, even here, even on generally Russia-conspiracy-skeptical people.

      Embassies routinely provide voting/polling stations when there’s an election going on in the embassy’s country, so that the country’s expats can still vote from overseas. In this case, it was the Parliamentary election, and $380k worldwide ($30k for D.C. alone) is about what it costs to staff and administer those voting events worldwide. It should not be surprising that the transfers to cover the costs of the 2016 election campaign are, therefore, marked “to finance election campaign of 2016.”

      I await the next installment of this type of drivel with bated breath. How will they ever top this one!? How can they top this one!? I’m sure I won’t be disappointed!

      Which reminds me of this article, which hasn’t come up on NC yet, or if it has, I clearly missed it. I can’t actually recommend the article — Kashin generally writes for a specific Russian liberal audience, and Rothrock really struggles with trying to translate that for a wider audience in a readable way, but it contains some gems:

      Every time a Russian television network or pro-Kremlin newspaper reaches a new low, it was once commonplace among independent thinkers to say that the Western media giants never allowed themselves such mistakes. Throughout Russian journalism’s post-Soviet history, faith in CNN as a kind of celestial constellation has been an essential factor. […]

      The Western press has already reported so many inaccurate, exaggerated, knowingly untrue things about Russia that today the Russian reader who seriously starts talking about Yuri Milner as an agent of the Kremlin is either a very naive person or a cynical hypocrite […]

      […] the crisis of faith (the faith of us provincial Russians) in the Western news media will inevitably affect Russia’s public atmosphere.

      Which is to say, this Russiagate hysteria on the part of the Western media has eroded America’s soft power considerably, far more than the election of Trump ever did. Respect for America’s vaunted “freedom of press” — as a cultural touchstone or an aspirational goal — may never come back.

    6. Matthew G. Saroff

      Ummmm…..The cash went to most of the Russian Embassies in the world for the purpose of setting up polling stations for RUSSIAN parliamentary elections:

      There was just one detail that didn’t warrant mentioning in the blurb or the alert . . . or even the story until the seventh paragraph: Russia, too, had an election last year, for its own legislative body. That election was held in mid-September, six weeks or so after the payment to the embassy in Washington.

      BuzzFeed noted that it wasn’t only the U.S. Embassy that had received money. So, too, did embassies in countries as widespread as Afghanistan and Nigeria, with the last payments being sent two days after the election. After the Russian election, that is.

    7. Goyo Marquez

      Big if true?
      I take it Lambert only read the headline or was that sarcasm, or did the article change? How would Russia sending money to embassies in 60 different countries, including the U.S. have anything to do with U.S. elections?

    8. Anonymous

      The Uranium One story is quite confusing. It starts with the fact that the Clinton’s are masters of plausible deniability. They know how to straddle the line with the best of them, and that’s a necessary survival skill in DC, especially when they’re up against the “VRWC” that is actively out to take them down. But just because they have enemies doesn’t mean they aren’t acting criminally and actually deserve antagonism.

      Let’s start with the “email” scandal. Many of us work in settings where information security is part of the job, be it in government or the private sector. Even low ranking employees can have access to information that can be harmful if exposed, and the danger only increases with the rank of the employee. For Clinton to break security protocols in the way she did is huge, it isn’t just a gotcha. There were definitely security staff who told her what protocols to follow, she can’t say she didn’t know, and she chose to ignore them. For whatever reason, she decided the rules didn’t apply to her.

      There is no way to know what she exposed with her private email server, but given today’s internet environment it is safe to say she exposed everything that was on that machine. (I’ve had cloud machines hacked within hours of putting them up when I was slow on applying security updates thinking no one would notice them.)

      So when she says she had nothing to do with the Uranium One deal I wonder how that could be. Uranium is important. We need to understand who has it and what is being done with it. We don’t want it going to the wrong people and places, and we need to make sure we (the US) have adequate stocks. That seems like it should be high up on the SoS responsibility list. So how come she didn’t know? Are there so many uranium deals that they are delegated to the lower staff? That seems unlikely.

      Rather it seems she was either incompetent in her duties in not knowing about the deal, or she is lying.

      The fact that the money came to the Clinton Foundation when she was running in 2008 but did not have the job also does not clear her entirely. After all, she was considered inevitable early in that campaign. Better to ask for favors as a demonstrated friend before she won than trying to access her after she was in power.

      So as is often the case there is a stench around Clinton’s story, but it’s never quite strong enough that she can’t pass the responsibility on to another.

    9. witters

      “Does anyone here dispute Russian STATE meddling in the election?”

      I do, and so should you. Unless you count funding your own state’s elections as “foreign interference”. It’s a mass psychosis. Arthur Miller, we need you.

    10. Elizabeth Burton

      Yes, because those clever, highly tech-savvy Russians who hacked the DNC and, now, sent money to rig the election were stupid enough to leave a trail a ten-year-old could follow and, in this case, write “for the election” on the memo line.

      And yet the foam-mouthed Russiagaters have no problem reconciling those two extremes.


    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you.

      This phenomenon has arrived in the UK and France. With regard to France, it was featured on the France 2 evening news a few weeks ago. It has not been given air time in the UK as the MSM prefers to lead with Trump and heart tugging stories like the Rohingya pawns and tech savvy toddlers in Raqqa.

      In the UK, it’s not just older workers, but those in their prime, too. There was a guy aged about 30 sleeping in his car on my road throughout October. He’s moved to another road nearby, but is working locally this month and then going to the Amazon camp in the next county.

      1. ambrit

        Ye Gads Colonel! “The Amazon camp” sounds more than a little ominous.
        Instead of the Todt Organization and “Work sets you free,” we have the WalMart Organization and “Work for nearly free and sleep in our parking lot.”
        Curious that we now have a generation living “on the tramp” and ‘officially’ no precipitating socio-economic collapse as cause.
        Cart-horse, chicken-egg, misery-revolution. Cause and effect, or effect and cause. Take your pick.
        P.S. I hope the pneunomic plague dosen’t spread to your home grounds.

        1. Colonel Smithers

          Thank you, Ambrit.

          Amazon operates a warehouse just off the M1. Other firms have similar set-ups in the area between London and Milton Keynes. There are others along the M40 and M4 corridors. This network of camps for nomads partly explains the amount of fly tipping on these highways.

          The nomad on my road would arrive at sunset and leave at dawn. Although the cul de sac is on the edge of the country and quiet, it’s a bit busy until about 8, so he would come back later.

          1. Enquiring Mind

            …between London and Milton Keynes.

            In how many ways has modern life become even more like Paradise Lost? How many are doomed to which newly-invented circles of Purgatory? Now if we could only change that Amazon address to an exit on highway MMT ;)

            1. OpenthepodbaydoorsHAL

              Yes but but but one guy named Bezos has personally made billions! And pays no tax! Isn’t he supercool?

          2. Mark P

            Many older Americans are living a desperate, nomadic life

            In the near future, autonomous vehicles will likely put a new wrinkle in this scenario.

            Homeless people will sleep in their self-driving vehicles as those vehicles drive around, thus eluding law enforcement’s efforts to move them on when they pull over to sleep.

            1. Grebo

              people will sleep in their self-driving vehicles as those vehicles drive around

              They are called “mopads” in Judge Dredd.

    2. RUKidding

      What’s really sad is reading the comments to this article. There’s surely a lot of heartless dupes out there who are totally on the blame the victim train. The banks are wonderful, doncha know? And they all paid back everything they owed the gubmint. And neither the banks, nor the mortgage companies ripped off anyone. If anyone was ripped off, it was the banks. So many commenters know a plethora of people who lived in their homes for eight years or more without paying a dime on their mortgages. Scofflaws one and all. These scofflaw senior baby boomers had it coming because they are: a) totally stupid, b) greedy people who dumbly lived beyond their means, and c) race traitors who let this once glorious nation go brown (the last is almost a direct quote).

      Bunch of libertarians really jumped on this article – or libertarian trained bots/trolls, not sure which.

      Also bunch of comments allegedly from “seniors” who are happily leading the RV lifestyle by choice and don’t have to work because they: a) are not stupid, b) saved their money instead of being profligate, and c) never ever meet these type of senior Nomad workers in the wonderful RV parks that they visit, so they don’t believe this article is true.

      Plus the author of the article is a Marxist liar bc she’s written for Mother Jones.

      Ba da boom ba da bing. And so it goes…

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Excellent rant – but I actually do know a guy who lived in his home for years while going through a divorce without paying a dime on his mortgage and without being foreclosed on. Ironically, he is a lawyer who was involved in foreclosing on others at the time. Just speculation, but that may be why they didn’t foreclose – he quite likely would have taken them to court, being pretty well versed in mortgage law and all.

      2. Annieb

        For another bit of research supporting the article, check out cheap rv living on YouTube where you will find interviews with all manner of people who live full time in their vehicles. Some are women on social security living in their cars. They say they are enjoying their lives as nomads living on, for example, $600 a month. Could be true. Could also be they are admirably trying to make the best of their situations.

        But you will also find an interview with a man of about 60 with a painful back injury who couldn’t work, had no health insurance and whose money had run out. He decided the best solution was to end his life.

      3. Oregoncharles

        FWIW, the only senior nomads I know of, childhood friends of my wife’s, are nomads because they like it that way. They’re sunbirds, spend the winter in Arizona. For that, it makes more sense to live in a motor home than to keep two houses. I believe their kids (now middle aged) live in their house, and pay rent when they can.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Correct; the “nomads” are the ones who’ve given up those houses. Sorry I wasn’t clear. In the case of my wife’s friend, they still own one, last I heard, but someone else lives there. They live on the road. I’ve seen it promoted as a retirement lifestyle (I’d hate it).

            Evidently for some it isn’t voluntary; that’s a real concern, especially since they don’t have the resources to meet their needs on the road. What happens when they get sick?

            My point is that there’s a complete range in circumstances.

    3. cocomaan

      This also happens to be part of the plot of “Doctor Sleep”, the sequel to “The Shining”. Well, sort of.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The “workamper” jobs range from helping harvest sugar beets to flipping burgers at baseball spring training games to Amazon’s AMZN, -0.85% “CamperForce,” seasonal employees who can walk the equivalent of 15 miles a day during Christmas season pulling items off warehouse shelves and then returning to frigid campgrounds at night.

        Retired people in the future may not be so lucky…robots will be walking those daily 15 miles.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I talked to one couple, Barb and Chuck. He had been head of product development at McDonald’s MCD, -0.16% before he retired. He lost his nest egg in the 2008 crash and Barb did, too.

        If this can happen to the head of product development at McDonald’s, it can happen to heads at robot manufacturing corporations and AI developing start ups too.

    4. perpetualPOOR

      My Mom always said “The Golden Years are quite tarnished.”

      Now, more than ever when 18+ million people have been made former homeowners.

  2. fresno dan

    Limbaugh: Moore was a Democrat at time of sexual misconduct allegations The Hill

    “Did you know that before 1992, when a lot of this was going on, that Judge Moore was a Democrat?” Limbaugh said on his radio show. “Nobody said a word.”

    “When he supposedly was attracted to inappropriately-aged girls — he was a Democrat,” Limbaugh added.
    Common knowledge that Lucifer was a republican before he was fallen, but immediately switched party affiliation after being cast from heaven….

    “Nobody said a word.”
    Kind of makes you wonder why he doesn’t switch back if he could save himself so much trouble….uh, Moore, not the devil….

    1. sleepy

      Seriously, why not switch? A guaranteed dem senate win would have the dems and the liberals in the msm off his back. Get some counseling, say he’s seen the light, and he’s good to go.

    2. Pat

      Apparently Pat Robertson hadn’t gotten that memo, also on last night’s 700 Club was Pat bemoaning how awful these accusations were IF they were true and exhorting his audience to withhold judgment until there was proof because there was no proof. Lots of saying women are lying. There was a bit of pushback from someone else on the show who pointed out that women have traditionally suffered for being honest about harassment, which Pat so paternalistically condescended to downplay. I’m sure he is very upset to find he could have just claimed that Roy hadn’t been saved yet as indicated by his being a Democrat.

  3. fresno dan

    Famed health economist Uwe Reinhardt dies Modern Healthcare

    The German-born economist long lamented that the U.S. did not establish a system of universal insurance like his native country and other advanced nations did. He took a mordant view of his adopted country’s lack of what he called “social solidarity.” He sometimes wondered out loud why U.S. policymakers hate poor people.

    Reinhardt told Modern Healthcare last year that if Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders were elected president and presented his Medicare-for-all plan to Congress, it would be dead on arrival because “politically, you cannot legislate what rationally makes perfect sense.”
    BTW, got a 404 message when I used the NC link, but I googled it and was taken straight away to the article

    1. el_tel

      Same problem (on more than one link). As a health economist by training/trade, I always thought Reinhardt was a rare breed in American health economics – someone who actually challenged the idea that price defined value. He was much more in tune with the “extra-welfarist” paradigm used in health economics in Canada, Europe and Australasia. I dread to think what his death will do to American Health Economics, which is dominated by the old welfarist paradigm that your willingness to pay should define what healthcare you get.

    2. Cynthia

      I agree with Professor Reinhardt that we can’t improve healthcare without FIRST reining in administrative costs. After all, as more and more healthcare dollars are being shifted away from the bedside to pay for an increasingly fat and bloated back office, healthcare in terms of outcomes and quality of care have only gotten worse. Much worse.

      However, I disagree with him that “pay for perform” (P4P) will somehow improve healthcare in the US. If anything, healthcare outcomes and quality of care have only gotten worse ever since Medicare started implementing their P4P program that essentially ties financial reimbursement to so-called “quality measures.” The only thing this program has done is cause administrative costs to skyrocket. That’s because P4P has caused hospitals to shifted even more and more money and resources away from the bedside to pay for a growing number of jobs in the back office. Thanks to P4P, the back office is bigger and more crowded than ever, filled with an ever-growing list of managers, consultants, and so-called “process improvement” experts. Needless to say, none of these jobs come cheap. Too bad the good professor had to die before he came to this most disturbing realization!

      It’s gotten to the point, the tipping point in fact, that the only way for Medicare to put a stop to runaway administrative costs generated by hospitals across the country is to require them to spend no more than, say, 20% of all Medicare dollars on administrative costs. If Professor Reinhardt were still alive today, I’d like to think that he would offer this rather simple, cost-saving suggestion to Medicare.

    3. Carl

      Re: Uwe Rheinhardt

      He was the one who described the US healthcare system as “designed by devil.” Sorry to see him go. A truth teller.

  4. allan

    You give Mark Warner far too little credit.
    In 2017 he might be carrying water for loan sharks payday lenders,
    but in 2011 he was leading the charge for a smart, targeted, long-term deficit reduction plan,
    since deficits were obviously what were holding the economy back
    and turning the Green Shoots™ of the Summer of Recovery™™ into the Fall of Failure.
    (That his little FDR-esque pep talk was on the 10th anniversary of 9/11,
    when other topics might have suggested themselves, adds to the ambience.)

    But, as with Trump, Warner isn’t the disease but a symptom.

  5. Alex

    taxpayers in Texas are helping to fund treatment for patients with opioid addiction in Vermont….” No, they’re not. Federal taxes do not fund Federal spending.

    Well, even though this is technically right that taxes don’t drive spending, there are still real resources (doctors’ and nurses’ time, drugs, etc) that are being produced and consumed, so in some way Texas residents do pay for the treatment in Vermont.

    1. TarheelDem

      Taxpayers in Texas pay on the aggregate debt from all expenses of the federal government. Opioid patients in Vermont pay on the aggregate debt of all expenses, which include NASA Houston and Fort Hood, among other items. Neither taxpayers in aggregate pay off the debt entirely.

      It’s about as phony an argument about fungibility as one can make.

      I’m not sure that any voters are exercising the responsibility that the argument tries to make fot Texans. It’s not the taxes they pay but the idiots they send to Congress that have become the problem.

  6. Pat

    I caught the beginning of the 700 Club last night. Pat Robertson spent several minutes pushing tax reform with the focus on how most (good) Americans were subsidizing (godless) liberal big blue state Americans read California and NY because of the local tax deduction. How just eliminating that one deduction would fuel tax cuts for years. He did briefly wave away the elimination of the mortgage deduction as bargaining. This was followed by the evils of the Iran deal because these were an evil war like nation determined to destroy Israel.

    Ignoring MMT for a moment (I know there is plenty of money regardless of taxes to fuel war with Iran) the one thing that ran through my mind was the uneven distribution of federal spending where a larger percentage of tax monies are spent in those (good) Americans’ states versus those large (godless) liberal ones, as in even with the deduction those larger states have been subsidizing the ALEC deluded ones my entire life. Another was how little tax”relief” most of Robertson’s viewers would ever see from the proposed reform.

    But my final thought was if Robertson was remotely honest and yes godly he would be decrying the war mongering and the greed that was beggering his viewers including denying them healthcare, adequate wages, futures not dependent on military service and comfortable retirements to keep him and other wealthy capitalistic leaders better than them.

    So no it isn’t just Democrats selling snake oil that I want to rot in hell starting now.

    1. ambrit

      The documentary “Marjoe” about evangelist Marjoe Gortner is an excellent starting point for those curious about how corrupt religion in America can be.
      I personally worked for a time at an apartment complex owned by a family who made their fortunes as tent revivalist preachers. A colder hearted bunch of people I never met anywhere else. I looked high and low while working there for their shrine to Mammon, but couldn’t find it. >:-]

      1. Kevin

        I would contend the fall of the Catholic church (per sex scandals) opened the void that has been filled with evangelical “so-called christian” preachers and their adherents who adhere to the Old Testament as opposed to the Gospel; .e. the teachings of Christ.

        When was the last time you heard an evangelical recite from Christ’s teachings – doesn’t happen – it’s all Old Testament with them.

        They are as far removed from the teaching of Christ as can be imagined. The fact they call themselves “christian” assures me they have an extra warm spot awaiting them in hades.

        1. Marco

          There is a tiny bit of sunlight coming into the dark corners of conservative American Protestant evangelicals. My 75yo mother has completely abandoned her strict Calvinist mindset and fully embraced Grace Theology (as preached by the Singaporean preacher Jospeh Prince). There is still the toxic deference to Zionism and all things Israel but I’ve been hearing much less fire-and-brimstone and more happy-happy-Jesus-LOVE.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          Er…the Moral Majority predates the exposure of the exposure priest abuse scandal.

          Wolf Blitzer became a star when he was reporting for the 700 Club from Israel. George W. liked to use the old time Calvinist rhetoric.

        3. Elizabeth Burton

          I’ll posit the issue is that some people are simply terrified about having to think things through and reach a decision. A rigid culture such as is found in any and all orthodox versions of religion allows them to escape that terror.

          Think about how several generations of children have grown up having their time marked off in a daily diary. Consider that those children were also placed in educational institutions where their teachers were ordered not to help them acquire the skills and confidence to consider the facts and make decisions but rather to ensure they had the information required to ensure their schools’ test scores improved annually.

          Then when they become “adults,” they’re tossed out into a world where “chaos” is an understatement—at least from the perspective of someone whose life to that point had been carefully structured and overseen.

          I can see where they would be drawn to orthodoxy.

          1. ambrit

            Full agreement here.
            Jabob Bronowski has an episode near the end of “The Ascent of Man” addressing the issue of ‘certainty.’ He ends with a shot of him at the ruins of Auschwitz.

      2. makedoanmend

        ” I looked high and low while working there for their shrine to Mammon, but couldn’t find it. >:-]”

        Thanks, I needed that laugh today.

      3. Ned

        Marjoe? He played the supermarket clerk who throws off his apron and joins his national guard unit in the 1970s movie “Earthquake”. He machine guns guys who had made fun of him.

        Wonder how Pat Robertson feels about all us taxpayers subsidizing his churches?

    2. sleepy

      While taxes may not fund spending, federal policy in terms of finance, tech, and research definitely favors coastal states. That’s one thing that always bugs me when those coastal liberals rant about how the blue states subsidize the red states. No, federal spending and deregulation in certain industries funds and subsidizes the blue states and concentrates wealth there.

      In other words, “Where’s my bailout?”

      1. Pat

        No it doesn’t favor coastal states it favors industry owners of those businesses, please get that straight. Most of the citizens of those coastal states derive as little from that spending as do the citizens of your state. It doesn’t feed or house people. It doesn’t increase job rolls. It doesn’t even repair the roads.
        SNAP benefits are farther reaching and do more for local economies than tax breaks for industries. (Full disclosure NY is actually in the middle of this benefit spending goodie) Even military bases do more for the overall population where it is located. Our captured government’s focus on throwing money at the financial industry and corporate tax goodies denies most Americans their bailout regardless of location as the money/benefits are pocketed by a limited number of people who don’t change their spending habits.

        The truth is that a significant portion of those who have benefitted most in our society are making sure they do not have any responsibility for its upkeep. I would posit that the tax reform we need would be an increase for those at the top, and the elimination of the loopholes that allow our largest corporations to pay little or no in taxes. That state income taxes should be encouraged not targeted for elimination. But instead we should seek
        the end of the fee and sales tax boondoggles which are another means of transfer of responsibility to those with less.

        1. sleepy

          I didn’t intend to give the impression that those policies favored the 90% living on the coasts. They favor the elite wherever they live, yet the idea that federal policy is geared to subsidizing the red states at the expense of the blue states is one that has some currency among many liberal dems of ordinary means and is not limited to the elite that do in fact actually benefit.

          1. Pat

            I think we are in agreement that too much is spent on things that are not about the common good. That said, if you look at both the overall numbers AND on what the spending goes to, Mississippi and its citizens are most certainly reaping far more than it/they contribute. OTOH two of the biggest winners in federal spending, South Carolina and Virginia, has a citizenry that probably doesn’t benefit as much as its elite does because of where the spending goes because Military Contractors, etc. Still in all three of those cases much more is spent there then is collected. The same cannot be said for NY, NJ, California, etc who receive less than they send. To be fair, looking at recent numbers apparently the state who may be paying the most while receiving the least could be Minnesota where on a per capita basis there is less then a 50 cent return per dollar.

            So as I see it there are a few questions here: what is more important the corporate good or the common good? How important is it that everyone fund the above choice? If one area does not agree with the choice do you penalize them for funding the other? And should this be determined by everyone pays the same towards it X cents per dollar earned OR that those have the most do the most?

            1. Pat

              Or we could just say that taxes don’t fund the government and demand our elected officials spend as much on health care (not insurance), housing, education, food, climate change, prosecution of financial fraud and political corruption, etc as they do on weapons and war….

              1. TarheelDem

                Weapons and war are are not considered “discretionary”. We must support “our boys and girls” — oops, “our warriors”. So they can keep us safe.

                But legally mandated payments like Social Security are not sacrosanct; they are “entitlements” to those old codgers, disabled, and poor who do not deserve them as much as productive billionaires.

                Too bad that no members of Congress at all challenge this rhetorical flim-flam.

          2. Synoia

            Oh, The tax bill is designed to extract more for the blue states (eq California), to be transferred to the red states?

            I’m sure that’s just accidental.

          3. Angie Neer

            Sleepy, thanks for making this point. I’m one of those who tends to lean on the “blue subsidizes red” idea, and I hadn’t looked at it from this angle before.

  7. Jack Lifton

    Tesla’s premise for going into business was twofold: First of all its founder claimed that the traditional oem automotive industry was not moving fast enough to meet the world’s urgent need to replace fossil fueled personal transportation. Then he claimed that mass producing vehicles was not “rocket science” and that if the likes of (then) failed General Motors could do it then surely a genius such as himself would have no problems .
    Unfortunately for the first adopters Elon Musk has discovered just how complex mass production of reliable machines that have thousands of components is. Now we are hearing that his inexperienced workforce is rebelling at the pressures put upon them to achieve the Muskian dreams without skilled experienced manufacturing engineering “management.” I note that chief
    engineers are leaving the company. I will guess that this is due to interference from on high. Setting schedules only works when the scheduler understands the entire process.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Surprise! Being a tech billionaire does not make you a manufacturer.

      And, apparently, fulfilling the humble “vision to change the world and humanity” (Wikipedia) requires someone to have some level of expertise in the dirty deed of manufacturing.

      Maybe that’s what’s behind the relentless contention by the tech types that “those jobs” are never coming back–tech geniuses don’t know how to do them.

      1. Altandmain

        I have found many people who are not in the auto industry tend to look down at those who are working there.

        I think that many of the billionaires, their upper middle class courtiers (ex: the Upper 10%ers who mostly backed Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney), etc tend to look down on those who are not as credentialed as they are.

        They must have thought that building a car is easy and even dumb people can do it. Not so at all and many have given up:

        What they seem willfully ignorant about is that car manufacturing is very complex, very capital intensive, requires years of accumulated experience, and the margins are very low. Companies like Apple accustomed to people paying for overpriced hardware cannot make the margins in cars, save maybe to a handful of iSheep. Baa. Baa.

        Tesla has experienced a huge learning curve for a reason. It is not easy to make a good car at a competitive price.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Cough John Delorean cough. He had the government of Northern Ireland to the tune of then $100 million, Renault, and Lotus working with him.

          “Are you telling me you built a time machine out of a Tesla?” -Ed Sheeran as Marty McFly in response to David Tennant’s Doc Brown. Yes, the inevitable reboot will be an all UK cast. Given the plot of the second movie, I suspect we are in the Biff universe already.

      2. Mark P

        Being a tech billionaire does not make you a manufacturer

        “Computer science is an oxymoron” is how Intel’s chip engineers used to put it back in the day after Microsoft CTO Nathan Myrhvold would drop by Intel and deliver lordly summings-up of how he thought things worked (or should work) in terms of the actually existing physics of semiconductors and fabs.

        It’s a syndrome in Silicon Valley: many people in the software business happily believing that knowing something about coding makes them real-world scientists, equipped to opine about physics and biology when they patently haven’t cracked the most basic literature.

        This is especially obvious with neuroscience, where you get comically ignorant idiots like Kurzweil holding forth about how we’re all going to turn ourselves into computer programs and live forever.

  8. Carolinian

    From the Don Jr. link.

    Donald Trump Jr. on Monday released an exchange of Twitter messages he had with WikiLeaks in 2016, apparently confirming a bombshell Atlantic report that he’d secretly corresponded with and acted on suggestions from the Russia-linked group headed by Julian Assange.

    Uh, no. Caitlin Johnstone:

    This is malpractice. Putting an ellipsis (…) and then omitting the rest of the sentence would have been sleazy and disingenuous enough, because you’re leaving out crucial information but at least communicating to the reader that there is more to the sentence you’ve left out, but replacing the comma with a period obviously communicates to the reader that there is no more to the sentence. If you exclude important information while communicating that you have not, you are blatantly lying to your readers.

    In other words more fake news to join the WaPo and NYT coverage at the bottom of the birdcage.

    1. nippersdad

      Caitlyn Johnstone is just required reading these days. All too often, her columns read like the corrections found on page 14 of the Post and Times a month later in small print ought to.

    2. Lunker Walleye

      Thanks, Carolinian. I had just read Caitlin’s article and came to NC to see if anyone had linked to it. It is a must read.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Yet another reason why I will not donate to Our Revolution. OTOH, I am in an infinite unsubscribe loop with Brand New Congress. I keep unsubscribing but I don’t get off the list.

      1. The Rev Kev

        “Our Revolution”. I like the sound of that. It reminds me of a propaganda poster that the British put up at the very beginning of the Second World War. It said “Your sacrifice will bring us victory!” but they hastily had to take it down as the common people, who were actually fighting the war, took the poster to mean “YOUR sacrifice will bring US victory!”. Tone deafness is not a new concept apparently.

      2. nippersdad

        Winnie Wong is People for Bernie and Nina Turner is Our Revolution; the headline conflates the two. I wouldn’t let Winnie’s newfound propensity for carrying DNC water color your view of Our Revolution. They are still doing great work. I saw a video of Nina this morning, asking people to run for something, that made me fall in love with her all over again. She is well worth the investment.

        It looks like Brand New Congress has been absorbed into the Justice Democrats. Not too sure about them. Their defenestration of Hildebrand in the Feinstein race in favor of some TYT newcomer looks fishy. Their finances are completely opaque and I still haven’t forgiven Uyger for his lectures to those of us who would not fall in line after the Primaries. Or, perhaps I am just paranoid….

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          I still get BNC emails, and when they announced they were teaming with Justice Dems they said it was to save money by not duplicating efforts. Given they’re both grassroots-based, that makes sense, as the stated reason was so they could send more money to the actual campaigns.

          Odd about that newsletter—I was getting their stuff at two addresses and had no problem at all ditching one. The DCCC/DSCC, on the other hand, I finally had to create a filter for so their screeching demands for more money would go straight to the trash.

  9. Tom Stone

    Every time I see the phrase “Gun Violence” I wince.
    I give you “Alcohol Violence” ( The big one), “Automobile Violence” and “Doctors not washing their hands Violence”.
    Sound absurd?

    “Sensible Gun Control Laws” have not reduced violent crime when implemented anywhere.
    Not in any major US City or State, not in Mexico which is a sovereign nation and not in Australia where slide action and semi auto rifles were banned 20 years ago.

    You only have to look at who still has the right to keep and bear arms in NYC ( As an example) to realize that “Gun Control” is about disarming the lower classes, period.
    “Those People” shouldn’t have the ability to defend themselves
    Donald Trump has a CCW, Dianne Feinstein had one until she married a billionaire and hired bodyguards and Don Perata had one…it’s a clue.

    1. Adam Eran

      The following quotes are from ShankarVedantam’s The Hidden Brain.

      [Gun laws – after a discussion which revealed that people’s unconscious bias is that guns protect them, even though the facts say otherwise. For example, when Washington D.C. banned handguns, the suicide rate fell 23%… so the feeling of safety is belied by fact]

      People feel safer barreling down a highway at seventy miles an hour-without seat belts-than they do sitting in a passenger plane going through turbulence. The fact that we are in control of the car gives us the illusion of safety, even though all the empirical evidence shows we are safer in the plane.

      Suicide rates in states with high levels of gun ownership are much higher than in states that have low levels of gun ownership. Alabama, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, and New Mexico have twice the rate of suicide of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Hawaii, and New York. The United States as a whole has a very high suicide rate compared to other industrialized countries. Researchers working for the federal government once examined the suicide rate among children in the United States and twenty-five other industrialized countries over a single year. The suicide rate among American children was more than twice the average suicide rate among children in the other twenty-five countries. The homicide rate among children in the United States was five times higher. Guns were responsible for much of this. If you measured only gun-related homicide and suicide, American children were eleven times more I likely than children in the other twenty-five countries to commit suicide by shooting themselves, were nine times more likely to be killed in accidental shootings, and were sixteen times more likely to be murdered. There were 1107 children shot to death in all the countries; 957 of these victims-86 percent-were children in the United States.

      The researchers Arthur Kellermann and Donald Reay once examined all gun-related deaths over a lengthy period of time in King County in the state of Washington. They were trying to find evidence for the common intuition that gun owners are safer because they can protect themselves and their families should someone break into their homes. Kellermann and Reay identified nine deaths during the period of the study where people shot and killed an intruder. These are the stories that gun advocates endlessly relate to one another. In the same period, guns in people’s homes were implicated in twelve accidental deaths and forty-one homicides–usually family members shooting, one another. The number of suicides?
      Three hundred and thirty-three.

    1. RUKidding

      Probably, yes, especially if Trump tells them that it’ll be “good” for them, and that it will create jobs.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The other benefit, other than a superfund site, is, perhaps, China can become the next global fracking leader, with know-how gained, one way or another, through this endeavor.

      1. HopeLB

        Yes, just as our multi/trans/national Corporations are always willing to trade housing their R&D in China in exchange for access to the China’s market, this looks like an R&D gathering operation without the poluting externalities. Or is the pollution, of the air and water the aim while China goes green? What else will be put in these underground storage facilities?( I might just be paranoid from reading the latest about our Admirals.) We are firmly in the Third World Banana Republic phase, selling off our assets, allowing resource extraction by foreign countries. You might say we’ve come full circle.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      it’s a never-ending arms race.

      And if multiple-killing mechanisms approach is our latest response, and it’s already not easy nor cheap, It’s going to be even more worrisome the day a new counter response is evolved by bacteria.

      Like it’s about how much money in the system and how fast it circulates (velocity), the factors here area similar: 1. dense living (too many people), and 2 human mobility and mobility speed globe-wise.

    1. cm

      From the article:

      If Seace hadn’t spoken with the officers, who then would not have been able to establish probable cause, Seace likely would have been able to leave the library that day without incident, Mello said.

      Never talk to police!

  10. johnnygl

    Re: buzzfeed article about russian wire transfers to its embassies.

    What they have SO FAR is a nothingburger. Wire descriptions are often written by low level staff, with little thought involved. The main usefulness of a wire description is to help the recipient allocate the money appropriately and account for it.

    The real question is what the embassies did with the money. Buzzfeed has nothing in the article on that.

    Again, we see over eager ‘insiders’ gas-lighting us with little tidbits that MIGHT be connected to something interesting, or might be nothing nefarious at all.

    1. johnnygl

      This is bad on the fbi, who prob leaked and who should know better, and bad on buzzfeed who also should no better. Both probably DO know better and went and did it, anyway. I don’t know which is worse.

    2. PhilK

      What they have SO FAR is a nothingburger.

      Well, yes, but without any doubt, it’s also the biggest, and best, most wonderful, most indescribably delicious, most tempting, most fantastic and juciest nothingburger in the history of public relations. Not your father’s nothingburger. And (I’m sorry to say) a nothingburger with a promising future!

    3. Enquiring Mind

      Gas-lighting is good for the economy, energy efficiency and job creation, doncha know? There might even be a healthcare angle with more optometrist jobs arising from all that citizen reading of fine print.

    4. Tom

      Someone ought to develop a Nothingburger diet plan — you can have as many as you want but it won’t make an ounce of difference.

  11. Craig H.


    All the Prince’s Men The Economist

    Print edition has a portion of the family tree for Abdel-Aziz bin Saud (d. 1953). The data they show I had not appreciated is who is and who is not descended from Sudairi. There are or were seven sons of A-A b S and his favorite wife Sudairi. The crown prince is a grandson of Sudairi. The princes arrested last week are not.

    Also there is a James Corbett interview with a Lebanese journalist which goes into the resigned Lebanese prime minister angle.

    Corbett and Marwa Osman on youtube.

    1. Craig H.

      I screwed that up!

      The princes arrested last week are not.

      That should have been: the two princes arrested last week who are noteworthy grandsons of Abdel-Aziz bin Saud are not grandsons of Sudairi. Although maybe even the Economist doesn’t have this totally straight. There were 33 other sons of A-A b S not on the tree. They didn’t go into the ancestry of the other arrested princes in the short article.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you, Craig.

        Keep an eye on the family and tribe of the former King Abdullah. His mother’s tribe hails from Djebel Shammar, are known as the Shammar federation and form the backbone of the National Guard, my father’s last employer in his 22 years in KSA, 1992 – 2014.

        The Shammar, who are found along the Iraqi border and on both sides, have never accepted their subjugation by the Al Sauds from the central Najd province. It would not take much for the children and grandchildren of Abdullah to organise the Shammar into rebellion. An alliance with the Shiites of Eastern Province, where most of the oil is, although depleting, and the Hejazi, some of whom pine for the Hashemites, could put the Al Sauds and their Sudairi and Wahhabi affiliates in a pincer.

        It’s funny to listen to MBS and his mindless cheerleaders around the world talk about corruption and decadence. Dad was one of the royal family’s doctors and has nothing good to say about them apart from Abdullah and the children of Khaled.

        1. Andrew Watts

          When the first Western volunteers who fought against Islamic State came back from Syria they also brought back stories about how the Shammar tribe located in Kurdish-controlled areas were already planning to overthrow the Saudi monarchy. I was skeptical of this claim at the time but a video surfaced shortly after of Sheikh Humaydi Daham al-Hadi proclaiming that in public and saying that the Wahhabis were the first Islamic State to them.

  12. Hana m

    The Poynter interview with Maciej Ceglowski on algorithms and the decline of journalistic standards is terrific.

    It’s important not to confuse individual tools with the broader structural problems in journalism that make people feel those tools are necessary. The tool(s) you mention (and many others like it) are a symptom of the broader problem, which is that social networks have become the primary distribution channel for news. News organizations have become wholly dependent on Facebook and Google in particular for online distribution, and for whatever revenue they still get, but the interests of those two companies do not align with those of journalists or the public. The problem is the casino, not the specific slot machines in it.


    The technical machinery of the online ad casino is not what’s vital here. What’s important is countering its effects. Witness just the last week of news, where a humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico got almost no front-page coverage because news organizations (correctly) determined that they would get the most clicks by covering a feud between the President and the NFL. At one point, the NYT had eight NFL feud stories on its front page, while millions of Puerto Ricans went without water or power.

    It doesn’t take someone steeped in algorithms to point out that this is a shameful dereliction of journalistic duty. It just takes an independent voice within the organization unafraid to speak up. But the New York Times just got rid of its ombudsman role.

    Best read of the morning.

  13. Tim

    Why wouldn’t WikiLeaks expect all their twitter communication is monitored ?

    Therefore – what conclusions can you come to about the content of their DM ?

  14. allan

    Very informative Twitter thread by Ernie Tedeschi on the most recent version
    of the Senate tax plan:

    A thread on what’s changed distributionally in the modified Senate TCJA released last night.

    Spoiler alert: In order to keep the cost down, allowing the bill to be passed with 51 votes instead of 60,
    many of the cuts will sunset in the out years. By 2027,

    Even with the corporate tax cut effects added in, about 38% of filers face a tax hike in 2027 versus current law. Without the corporate cuts, that rises to 72%. /18

    Whatever it takes.
    As Chris Collins says megadonors have told him, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.’

  15. Livius Drusus

    Re:Barbara Ehrenreich: Worker Abuse Is Rampant, and Sexual Harassment Is Just the Start, without even getting into more egregious stuff like sexual harassment, many service workers are treated horrendously by their bosses and their customers. I have had arguments with my own family members over the way they belittle and bully waiters and waitresses. What makes their behavior even worse is that my grandmother worked as a waitress at one time so they should know better. My grandmother used to talk about the same stuff Ehrenreich discusses here including the guys making inappropriate comments and the pats on the butt. She eventually had enough and got a job at a bank handling student loans, which is a story for another time!

  16. MtnLife

    Regarding the NSA hacking tools: (adjusts shiny hat) anyone ever get the feeling that this story about “losing” their hacking tools is a misdirection to allow plausible deniability for unrestricted use of said tools? The amount of ransom ware being used gives off vague overtones of the CIA running guns and drugs to fund their black operations. We already know that they can imitate Russian cyber signatures. Would be quite a racket. One hand stuffs stolen bitcoins into one pocket while the other hand is pocketing tax dollars to fight the “problem”.

    1. Andrew Watts

      They will probably abandon the use of those tools because the trail would always lead back to Fort Meade. Part of what makes modern electronic/signals intelligence popular is the ability to cloak and obscure your actions from other actors. The hacks/exploits can always be replaced.

      Would be quite a racket. One hand stuffs stolen bitcoins into one pocket while the other hand is pocketing tax dollars to fight the “problem”.

      The NSA already consumes the largest share of the US IC budget which is something they don’t brag about nearly enough. They also have no reason to “steal bitcoins”. If anything tracking bitcoin activity would provide an incredible amount of insight into international black markets and money laundering.

      Furthermore, if any SIGINT agency found a way to exploit blockchain technology to aid their cryptography efforts it’d be a big win for them. How much computer processing power is used to make a bitcoin nowadays? Anyway, I find it amusing that people think the NSA hasn’t ever been hacked before.

      That is soooo precious!

      1. Mark P

        Andrew Watts wrote: The NSA already consumes the largest share of the US IC budget which is something they don’t brag about nearly enough.

        Yeah. Besides using half the electricity in Maryland sometimes, the phrase “the world’s largest employer of mathematicians” has long been synonymous with NSA. They get them cheap, too, because it’s interesting work and good on the resume later. Bruce Schneier used to work for “the world’s largest employer of mathematicians,” for example.

        MtnLife wrote: Regarding the NSA hacking tools: (adjusts shiny hat) anyone ever get the feeling that this story about “losing” their hacking tools is a misdirection to allow plausible deniability for unrestricted use of said tools?

        No. They’re screwed big time. It’s been obvious for over a year that there are multiple leaks at NSA because they’re leaking like a sieve.

    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      If you make comments insinuating ‘the NSA’ is doing this, large numbers of people will ignore you immediately, for emotional reasons. If you point out that security agency ‘hacking’ is (heavily) out-sourced to contractors, staffed by men who are not government employees, who are vetted for security clearances by yet another contract firm…… you may get more traction.

      More likely than not U. S. taxpayers have funded actors who work both sides of the business. However, odds are they aren’t formally inside the government when they ‘broaden the use’ of their unique skill sets.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China and the CIA Are Competing to Fund Silicon Valley’s AI Startups Defense One (Re Silc).

    One more reason Cal-exit is not likely.

    The CIA is not going to let the Silicon Valley go to the Chinese with lots of American money.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    China to send special envoy to North Korea South China Morning Post

    The Last Emperor of the movie fame was the first and last emperor of Manchukuo (of Manchuria), but not the last emperor of China (he, Pu Yi, was the penultimate emperor to rule from Beijing).

    The last person to sit on the Chinese throne was Yuan Shikai, who was also a special envoy, kind of, to Seoul of Joseon Korea. The actual title of Imperial Resident of Seoul.

    So, it’s sort of history repeating itself here…the other power was Imperial Japan at the time, versus the US this time.

  19. Ned

    “Purina uses real pumpkin to accent its cat and dog food recipes year round…”
    So glad our pet companions get the real thing.

    Meanwhile we bipeds get “Natural Flavors” which is another name for “artificially synthesized taste chemicals” found along with pesticide residues in non-organic humanoid food.

    1. Sid Finster

      As opposed to fake pumpkin?

      Seriously, I’ve heard of giving a constipated cat pumpkin to loosen Tabby up a bit, but how many cats would willingly eat the stuff?

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        Mine loved it. Indeed, they wouldn’t touch their food if I neglected to include it.

        We tend to forget that carnivores like cats will, in the wild, eat not just their prey but the contents of said prey’s stomach. My kitten was noshing on sunflower seeds very lightly wafted with cayenne or something similar this morning—he loved them. He also steals my fries.

        1. Oregoncharles

          I caught my cat stealing cooked turnips from the top of the stove (not much of a housekeeper, in those days.) They also eagerly eat cantaloupe peels – I wasn’t generous enough to give them the good stuff.

          They’ll also try to eat bread, I think because of the yeast; this usually results in a corner of the bag chewed open and the corner of the loaf masticated.

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Was the Democratic primary rigged? Ezra Klein, Vox. Moving from denial to bargaining? “The 2016 Democratic primary wasn’t rigged by the DNC, and it certainly wasn’t rigged against Sanders. But Democratic elites did try to make Clinton’s nomination as inevitable, as preordained, as possible.” Well, “rigged” is just a word…

    Also rigged, I believe, against all Democratic primary voters.

    In fact, the voters were bigger victims.

    1. Pat


      Contestants given the questions to preordain the winner were considered to be a fraud on the public for game shows, but voters apparently aren’t even as important as television viewers.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I should also add that many of those bigger victims never succumbed to the Stockholm Syndrome…they never endorsed the queen.

        Many of them would never have asked, ‘what are her chances,’ had they been told from a very top-level party insider of credible evidence of rigging.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I should also add that many of those bigger victims never succumbed to the Stockholm Syndrome…they never endorsed the queen.

        Many of them would never have asked, ‘what are her chances,’ had they been told from a very top-level party insider of credible evidence of rigging.

  21. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    US today vs. early 20th century China.

    What is happening in Kansas? Warlordism or proto-warlordism by the end of dynasty in China.

    Opium crisis then, Opioid crisis now.

    Imperial court corruption vs. the Swamp.

    Unrest or losing grip in various parts of the empire then, including Vietnam, Korea, Taiwan, Mongolia, Xinjiang, compared with those in the news we read everyday.

  22. Vatch

    No, they’re not. Federal taxes do not fund Federal spending.

    Yes, they do. Federal taxes don’t fund all Federal spending, but they do fund the majority of it. A valid claim would be that the money that the Federal government borrows will never be paid back. So borrowing does not fund any Federal spending.

    What will happen if large numbers of people start to believe the claim that Federal taxes don’t fund Federal spending? The rich and powerful will demand further reductions in their tax rates, and the Congress might pass a flat income tax. The consequence will be an increase in the already excessive economic inequality that we currently experience. Mission accomplished!

    1. JEHR

      I think the wealthy who hide their wealth to avoid paying taxes know exactly how money works for them. Taxes are mainly a way to redistribute wealth in an economy but when the wealthy avoid paying trillions of dollars in taxes, no one really seems to notice until the poverty of others becomes overwhelming. Taxes do not pay for government expenses. Taxes just help to smooth out huge inequalities and without paying taxes, enormous inequality is the result which we can see today. One way to visualize how taxes work is to consider when a country goes to war: taxation does not pay for wars; otherwise the US would have enormous difficulty paying for their infinite warmongering. There never is a ceiling on the military budget of the USA and there need be no ceiling on other expenses in a sovereign country as long as the resources needed are available.

    2. Yves Smith

      Please stop propagating inaccurate information. Federal taxes do not fund Federal spending. The Federal government spends by having Treasury debit an account at the Fed. Period. Taxes serve to create incentives, redistribute income, and drain spending.

      1. will_f

        Could someone elucidate what it means when the Treasury “debits” an account at the Fed?

        Other than “To debit an account means to enter an amount on the left side of the account (in double entry bookkeeping)”.

        1. Vatch

          My understanding is that when this happens, the balance of the Treasury’s account at the Fed drops. When I write a check, and the check clears, the balance in my checking account drops by the amount on the check. My account is debited by the amount of the check. If my balance drops to zero, I can’t write any more checks, unless I deposit some money in the account.

        2. FelicityT

          Federal Spending 101:

          1. Govt gets bill.
          2. Govt tells bank of bill sender to credit bill sender’s account bill amount.


          State Spending 101:

          1. Govt gets bill.
          2. Govt tells their bank to debit their account and send money to bank of bill sender.
          3. Bank of bill sender credits bill sender’s account bill amount.


          Note the difference.

          1. will_f

            So the account is debited by the same amount needed to pay for a bill passed by Congress and signed by the Pres? So the process goes:

            1.) Congress passes spending bill, President signs it.

            2.) An account at Treasury is debited the corresponding amount necessary to pay for the spending bill.

            As you note, Felicity T, the bank of bill sender and the bank of the Govt are actually the same bank on the federal level, but not state level.

            Is that close?

            1. Vatch

              By “bill”, I don’t think FelicityT is referring to a bill that can become a law. FelicityT is referring to a bill for payment, such as you or I might get for something that we have bought. And she left out the step where the Federal government’s account at the Federal Reserve is debited.

            2. FelicityT

              Bill like your cable bill, not a law. As Vatch mentions below.

              However he is incorrect that there is a step missing. There is no account to debit at the federal level because the federal government creates dollars adhoc, as needed. There is no account to take from unless you want to call the pool of infinite dollars an account. I feel that doing so would obscure the nature of how federal spending works though.

              States being monetarily non-sovereign do have an account though, that is the difference.

                1. FelicityT

                  Think my reply got eaten when i tried to edit otherwise apologies for the double post.

                  Yes but in this case I disagree and am certainly not alone.

                  This line of thinking creates the illusion of finite dollars. It may have been accurate with the gold standard but it doesn’t apply now. It simply helps support the argument “We can’t afford (socially beneficial thing for the masses).” Just as arguing federal taxes fund federal spending helps support the argument “I don’t want my tax dollars paying for (thing I don’t like).”

                  We must do away with these inaccurate representations or those is power will continue to use them against us.

  23. Pat

    This is a fun little item. I like wild horses and burros, but there is some question in my mind as to why it costs almost two million dollars a year in order to rent them a space on the Drummond ranch. How large are these herds of horses and burros? Are they limited to a small section of the ranch or is this rental for the whole 433,000 acres even as it is also used for cattle ranching and or hay fields, paddocks, stables, equipment storage and housing? I am aware that with cattle ranching as their major function they do need to be aware of the amount of land needed to support their herds, but do horses and burros eat so much grass that they lose enough acreage to this to justify such a large rental payment?

    Although there is the benefit to keeping wild horses, I do have to say that I would tend to put this in the same category as the monies spent elsewhere on tech or financial service industries as to the overall benefit to the region. Somehow I have to think that little of that almost two million dollars increased the work force on the Drummond ranch or expanded the monies spent in their community than their cattle business was already fueling.

    1. Pat

      On the flip side, I do have to give Ree and Ladd Drummond some credit for expanding employment in their town using her food industry popularity. As indicated in this article their opening of their store/deli/bakery/restaurant (which pays higher than minimum wage going for the Oklahoma living wage level) has led to a massive tourist invasion of the town Pawhuska. This has seen a 33% increase in sales tax collection and has led to several businesses opening.

  24. bluegirlredstate

    I have heard a couple of times that federal taxes don’t fund federal spending. Can someone explain this concept or point me in a direction to start research? I admit that this is a foreign concept to me, and I would like to learn more.

      1. Ned

        More at foreigners recycle trillions of tax dollars funneled into overseas military bases back into treasury bonds that fund the deficit so that the 1% aren’t taxed to pay it.
        The income taxes also pay the ever increasing interest payments to the private banks that lend money to the government instead of the Treasury Department lending non-profit money to itself. Tube socks and other thingies are a tiny percentage of that.

        1. FelicityT

          US debt is not debt in any traditional sense. It is simply a dollar balance is securities accounts. The use of the word debt conjures images of a loan, like you or I would get, it is no such thing.

    1. Vatch

      federal taxes don’t fund federal spending

      Taxes do fund Federal spending; but taxes don’t fund all Federal spending. The government pretends to borrow money to fund the extra spending, but in reality, it creates that money ex nihilo, and then creates the fiction of borrowing. The money will never be repaid, and the interest payments will continue forever, as with a British consol or a perpetual bond.

      Disagreements about this periodically erupt at this and other web sites.

        1. Vatch

          From the article to which you linked:

          Indeed, if government spends currency into existence, it clearly does not need tax revenue before it can spend. Further, if taxpayers pay their taxes using currency, then government must first spend before taxes can be paid.

          Yes, to start the process, the government creates money ex nihilo. But once the money exists, for the government to continue spending, a portion of that money must be recycled via taxation. So after the money exists, continued use of the money by government depends on taxation. It is theoretically possible for government to continue spending money without ever receiving taxes, but this would be very inflationary, and it would become harder and harder for the government’s spending to buy things, as the value of the currency rapidly diminishes. Eventually, taxes would become absolutely necessary to support government spending.

          1. Anonymized

            States create money and then ask for it back in the form of taxes. This is to encourage use of its currency and force its people to do work that the state deems necessary so they can pay those taxes.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Can a state simply dictate, by fiat, that people must use it as money, without resorting to taxation?

              Can a state make drivers drive on the right side? Can another state dictate driving on the left side of the road?

          2. FelicityT

            Federal taxes destroy dollars. Those dollars don’t pay for things. Why would they? The government has the ability to create as many as they want. What point would using them serve? It is added complexity that does nothing but obscure the true nature of government spending (though this is likely why the idea remains so persistent: it is greatly beneficial to those who do not wish to spend money on programs to help the many).

            None of this makes taxes unnecessary however. It has been pointed out elsewhere precisely what the purpose of taxes are to a monetary sovereign. Paying for things ain’t one of them.

            1. Vatch

              Federal taxes destroy dollars.

              Most people pay their taxes by writing a check or by an electronic funds transfer. But some people pay with cash. What happens when a taxpayer pays cash at an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center?

              1. FelicityT

                Perhaps those individual pieces of paper provided they are in good enough condition are recycled back in negating the need to print additional ones to replace others in poor condition but that is the extent of their connection to future spending.

                I think you might be thinking of money as it was when the dollar was arbitrarily tied to shiny bits of metal.

                1. Vatch

                  I think you might be thinking of money as it was when the dollar was arbitrarily tied to shiny bits of metal.

                  Actually, no. Elsewhere in one of today’s comments, I say that I understand that money is created ex nihilo. I think that MMT advocates have been making some claims about current economic behavior that is not justified, but I’ve been told that I’m propagating inaccurate information. So probably I just don’t understand. But my misunderstanding is not of the nature that you think it is. I’m probably not alone — I suspect that there are many others who share my belief that money is not destroyed when Federal taxes are paid.

                  1. FelicityT

                    Sorry, we weren’t clear. Let’s try again.

                    It’s obvious you get the initial creation part. However that’s also how it worked with the gold standard. One day no dollars, next day X amount of dollars (based on amount of gold reserves).

                    Without the gold standard it’s simply: infinite dollars as far as federal govt ability to spend is concerned, but still finite actually in circulation.

                    Example (numbers not real):

                    Today’s starting total money supply (in circulation): $100
                    Feds collect taxes in amount of: $25
                    Today’s ending total money supply: $75

                    Next days starting total money supply: $75
                    Feds spend on goods and services: $50
                    Today’s ending money supply: $125

                    Obviously very simplified.

                    1. Vatch

                      Here’s my (probably inaccurate) understanding, which is likely shared by many people. Step #5 is only valid if the Congress has passed a debt ceiling of $25:

                      Feds spend on goods and services: $50

                      If there is no such debt ceiling, then the Feds are only allowed to spend $25. To spend more than that, they would need to collect additional taxes.

                    2. UserFriendly

                      Yes, and the debt ceiling is an arbitrary rule that does not need to exist. The government can print bonds or dollars till the cows come home and the only limit is real resources and when that is hit you get inflation.

                  2. todde

                    the Federal gov’t account is credited and the Cash in Circulation account is debited on the Fed’s Balance Sheet when taxes are paid in cash.

                    Conceptually, it’s a lot more complicated than that but that is the end result after a series of transactions.

                    There is no ‘money’, it is a construct that represents numbers on the Fed’s balance sheet.

                  3. FelicityT

                    Looks like we hit peak nest! Replying here to your comment below.

                    Got three quick pieces for you, might be some repetition so apologies for that. You seem like the curious type (which is great) that might like more and better edited info than a quick comment reply from me is likely to offer.




                    1. Vatch

                      Thanks for the links. From the first one:

                      The so-called “borrowing limit” is not a limit to what the federal government can borrow. Being Monetarily Sovereign, the federal government has no need to borrow and, in fact, does not borrow.

                      I agree that the borrowing limit is not really a borrowing limit. I see it as a limit on how much new money can be created ex nihilo. That “borrowed” money is never going to be repaid. Instead, interest payments will be paid for a very long time. Since the government can create money, it’s wrong to put an additional financial burden on the citizens by creating this debt.

                      Once the misnamed “debt ceiling” is reached, the government can’t spend unless additional tax revenues are collected, or the “debt” ceiling is raised.

                      In the second link:

                      Neither taxes nor borrowing have anything to do with federal spending. Even if all taxes and all borrowing fell to $0, our Monetarily Sovereign government could continue spending forever. (Sorry to be the bearer of “bad” news, but those tax dollars you send to the federal government cease to be part of the money supply. They are destroyed. Used for nothing.)

                      I do not accept this at all. Without taxes, the money supply would rapidly grow, and the value of money would rapidly shrink. Soon, people would be unwilling to accept money from the government, and government spending would effectively stop.

                      Just because the author says that tax dollars are destroyed, doesn’t mean that it is so. To me, this amounts to an unproven metaphysical statement.

                      I’m out of time, now. Thanks again for the links.

                  4. FelicityT

                    You’re welcome.

                    Will reply in case you come back later or for others that may have the same questions. Won’t expect anything more on your end though. And time is dwindling for myself as well so may not see a reply.

                    I agree with you that taxes should not be $0, I don’t think, based on that particular writers other writings that it was meant to be taken literally but simply to illustrate a point.

                    Regarding the destruction bit, this could simply come down to a preference over how an idea is presented. To me, it seems much clearer and a more accurate illustration to accept that the dollars are destroyed. Implying that they are used then adds additional complexity to the situation while not changing outcomes. I find that complexity is the enemy of justice because it can be used to hoodwink the masses into how their government actually operates.

                    Regarding inflation, it would seem that there is an automatic mechanism that you would argue exists that I and others would dispute the existance of. There would seem to be barring any shortages of a resource or increase in its production costs that there is no automatic increase in the resource’s cost just because there are now $100,000 in the money supply rather than $100. If the added currency results in overdemand, then perhaps, but it is not guaranteed simply because the pool increased.

                    Counterexample, home mortgages becaue of fractional reserve banking also result in the creation of new dollars that never existed before. Now in this case we do see price inflation with regards to homes (since larger mortgage = more $$ for the private bank) but even with the large amount of newly created money we don’t see any widespread out of control inflationary problems elsewhere and we have mechanisms to reduce inflation and the money supply if needed.

                    In fact, were the federal government to use its limitless purse to provide 100% free things like education, healthcare; a universal basic income; a livable reitrement stipend and so on we could likely see prices decrease though it is not guaranteed.

                    We currently have a large number of unnecessary jobs utilizing resources (commuting fuel, fast food for workers on the go, etc) better spent elsewhere (or not used at all) and requiring individuals to give up some of their time. This setup further increases unnecessary jobs as individuals who feel they do not have enough time employ others to do necessary things for them (maids, food prep, childcare, etc).

                    By decoupling survival from jobs for you also remove demands on resources and additionally limit the total funds required in circulation to suport that population.

                    I think you seem to have good grasp on the debt ceiling. Its arbitrary and misleading and not really a cap on future spending as many believe but a refusal to pay bills alreaady incurred. Given the fact that is is always raised it is essentially as if it does not exist. Though some might like to argue the last point on technical grounds.

                    1. FelicityT

                      Think we may have intially misread one of your last points, you are correct that absent the incentive of requiring taxes or other fees to be paid in dollars then there may come a point in time where individuals would cease accepting them for goods and services provided to the government.

                      So inflation bit above was likely to have been putting words in your mouth. Though perhaps my mistake might provide some additional information to others that I would not have included absent it.


              2. todde

                Money is just a way for people to keep track of who owes what to whom without having an accountant make a journal entry.

              3. todde

                the Federal gov’t account is credited and the Cash in Circulation account is debited on the Fed’s Balance Sheet.

                It’ like the Matrix, there is no spoon.

          3. Oregoncharles

            ” Further, if taxpayers pay their taxes using currency, then government must first spend before taxes can be paid.”
            ? I thought banks were also creating money via lending. If so, the taxpayer is not dependent on prior government spending for “currency.” That might be so if we used literal currency, printed bills, but that isn’t how we pay taxes.

            Hmmm – has anyone ever gone to the nearest Treasury office and paid their taxes with, say, pennies?

            1. Vatch

              I think the IRS can refuse tax payments in coins (aside from the small amout of coins that are required to meet the exact liability). For example, if a cash using taxpayer owes $355.62, he or she must pay $355 in Federal Reserve notes, and only $0.62 in coins. I’m not certain about this, but I strongly suspect the IRS would not allow themselves to be bothered by funny business with pennies.

            2. todde

              Federal Reserve banks have to have cash for their reserve requirements and to buy the stock of the Federal Reserve before they can lend one dollar.

      1. el_tel

        I don’t disagree – and you’ve enunciated (IMO) well in other comments the potential political implications (which could/would benefit the rich).

        I guess my only point would be that people like Bill Mitchell would advocate the job guarantee as a way to head off this potential “move to greater inequality” that you mention. Of course, I’m NOT saying that this would be something that is currently politically feasible in the USA! ;-) IMO I think there needs to be a fair bit more “desire for reform” before a Mitchell-style MMT that genuinely reduced inequality could be introduced….but I’m not a US expert and will freely defer to others if they have info from “on the ground” in key states etc.

    2. HotFlash

      federal taxes don’t fund federal spending

      This is a reference to the way money *really* works, that is the US govt, a money sovereign, creates money, can create as much as it wants and use it for whatever purposes it wishes. A money sovereign can never go broke and can always buy anything that is available for sale in its own currency. This is known as Modern Money Theory. There is a short (6:29) intro on youtube, Modern Money, the Basics, and a series at that amounts to a college-level Modern Money 101. Lots more info at both places, but these are a good start.

      1. FelicityT is also a decent resource. And might be a bit more accessible to some in terms of style and examples used.

    3. Yves Smith

      As I said above, the Federal government spending by having Treasury debit an account at the Fed. The government as a sovereign currency issuer can always create more dollars. It will never run out of dollars, so it can never involuntarily go bankrupt (it can CHOOSE to stiff its creditors, just the way Russia surprised everyone in 1998 by defaulting when in fact it had a very low foreign debt level and was not having a run on its currency).

      Taxes serve to create demand for the currency (you need to have dollars to pay your taxes), to drain spending out of the economy (too much creation of dollars via Federal spending, aka deficit spending, can create inflation if there isn’t slack in the economy), to create incentives and disincentives, and to redistribute income.

      States and local governments are in a completely different boat. They cannot create dollars so they need to tax or borrow to fund spending.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        States and local governments are in a completely different boat. They cannot create dollars so they need to tax or borrow to fund spending.

        Exactly so!!! Which is why any state refusing Medicaid expansion monies is operating well beyond reason.

      2. Pookah Harvey

        I am confused by the current inflation in Venezuela. What is the MMT explanation and is there a solution using the theory? Any ideas on where to look?

        1. todde

          the solution is to raise taxes or cut government spending, which is politically hard to do for raising taxes and fiscally hard to do when inflation is already increasing prices.

          1. todde

            that is the monetary solution.

            The other solution is to increase exports/reduce imports and/or increase foreign investment in the country.

        2. Pookah Harvey

          Unemployment in Venezuela is over 7%. This should allow the country to print money w/o inflation according to my understanding of MMT. I have heard lecturers limit this to large economies that can be self contained. So how is trade entering the picture?

          1. todde

            the price of oil dropping has reduced demand for the Bolivar.

            less demand for the Bolivar means the supply of it goes up. (the ‘inventory’ of money increases)

            less foreign demand for the Bolivar means less imports. (inventory of goods goes down)

            more money trying to buy less goods equals inflation.

        3. FelicityT

          A few things to look at:

          What currency is government debt denominated in?

          Is the government monetarily sovereign?

          Are there shortages of resources?

          How self-sufficient is the country?

        4. HotFlash

          Venezuela’s problem, as I understand it, is that its crushing debt is denominated in US dollars, which it does not control. Its main source of US dollars is exports to US (coffee, cocoa) and/or oil (usually=~always sold in US dollars), otherwise it has to exchange Bolivars for US dollars. Wikipedia has a nice little rundown of Venezuela’s economic history at the beginning of their article.

      3. HotFlash

        Please, Yves or somebody better versed in this than I, would it be correct to consider the Federal ‘deficit’ a species of what we call in business accounting ‘Retained Earnings’? For non-accountants, RE is the total of net income that a business has earned since inception but not paid out in dividends.

        1. todde

          here is a link to the Federal gov’t financial statements for FY15.

          The deficit is more a net income(loss) number.

          Government’s have ‘fund balances’ which is their equity account. At FY end, the fund balance or Net Position of the US Federal gov’t was $18,221,900,000,000.

    4. ChrisPacific

      Rather than thinking of the national money supply as a household balance sheet, imagine it’s a big artificial lake with two large valves controlling the rates of flow in and out. Flows of water into the lake are government spending, while flows out of the lake are taxes. The government has the power to control both flows.

      If spending is too high relative to taxes, the lake gets too full and eventually there is a catastrophic flood. If spending is too low relative to taxes, the lake starts to dry out and the creatures living in it start dying. So the rates of flow in and out obviously need to be closely related if we are not to avoid one of these outcomes. Do they need to be equal? Maybe, but not always. For example, if there is a massive rainstorm then we might need to increase the rate of flow out well above the rate of flow in. Conversely if there is a terrible drought, then it might be necessary to increase the rate of flow in well above the flow out.

  25. Ned

    “He’s a Creep, but Wow, What an Artist!”…”It’s an age-old question,and it re-emerges with the revelations… ”

    More like It’s an old-age question for decaying Marxists at the NYT…

    Historical revisionism, backwards looking virtue signaling and dragging your old grievances onto every else’s stage does not a critic of contemporary art make. Oh, and his examples of “admirable art” are pretty pathetic.

    1. Ned

      That article opened after clicking on “Overnight in the Walmart Parking Lot.”
      Are the Russians hackin’ the NYT site?

    2. Oregoncharles

      I disagree, strongly. In fact, this is one of the most persistent and vexed issues in philosophy: How far is the value of art independent of the moral character of the artist?

      Basically, “American Beauty”, for instance, is no less of a movie because we just found out what a nasty character Kevin Spacey is. He was just as nasty when we decided it was a great movie. Furthermore, he’s only one of thousands of people involved in making it, many of whom have their futures tied to it – or any of his more recent projects.

      I gather Picasso was a jerk to women, too. That doesn’t change his paintings, though it might cast an odd light on some of the portraits.

      If the quality of art depends on the moral character of the artist, we’re in trouble, because they’re notoriously erratic, selfish people. Not all, but more than enough. Caravaggio, whose work is noteworthy for an especially beautiful, serene surface, is only the most extreme example.

      The only likely effect of the current furor on American movies is that they’ll be slightly poorer because they’ve lost some important people, and perhaps there will be more roles for women (we can hope). The chief effect on Hollywood, with luck, is that working conditions will be a lot better, especially for women. Unless it regresses when popular attention shifts; but I think there would now be an outcry. Better working conditions might even make for better movies.

      OTOH, once we learn ugly things about the artist, it’s harder to view his/her work in the same way, especially if we’re looking at the artist, as we are with actors. As a matter of psychology, it will spoil the effect somewhat.

      I realize there’s a more moralistic way of looking at art. We could call it “ethicist” vs. “estheticist.” Above are my arguments against it, but it’s an issue that will never be settled.

  26. flora

    re: ‘One of the most secretive, dark states’: What is Kansas trying to hide? – Kansas City Star

    This is a must read.
    The current GOP tax plan in Congress is the Brownback ‘real time tax experiment’ on steroids.
    If it passes you can bet these horrors will come to your state, though possibly with more transparency.

    I hope the Links managers will continue posting this link for a few more days. It’s a long, multifaceted story that takes more than one or two days to read and fully comprehend.

    Thanks for posting the link.

  27. Pookah Harvey

    Something that the Global Wealth Report by the Credit Suisse Research Institute doesn’t report.
    Compare the total increase in wealth (Total wealth 2017 minus total wealth 2007 equals 59435 USD bn) to the increased wealth by the 1% (50.1% of 2017 total wealth minus 45.5% of 2007 total wealth equals 39936 USD bn)
    You find that 67% of all new global wealth went to the 1% over the decade. Funny how they didn’t include that in their figures.

  28. dearieme

    ‘How One Las Vegas ED Saved Hundreds of Lives After the Worst Mass Shooting in U.S. History Emergency Physician Monthly (DK). DK: “Flow is king.”’

    Is it still the case that it’s claimed that of about 500 wounded none have died? If so I have to say I find it hard to believe.

  29. Vatch

    This is an example of why the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and of the press, among other things, is so important:

    Egypt singer faces trial for ‘provocative’ Nile remarks

    A famous Egyptian singer faces trial for “spreading provocative publicity” after she suggested that drinking from the River Nile could make someone ill.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One way to find out whether it, provocative it is, is true or false is to have a trial

      From Wikipedia:

      “Shouting fire in a crowded theater” is a popular metaphor for speech or actions made for the principal purpose of creating unnecessary panic. The phrase is a paraphrasing of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.’s opinion in the United States Supreme Court case Schenck v. United States in 1919, which held that the defendant’s speech in opposition to the draft during World War I was not protected free speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
      The paraphrasing does not generally include (but does usually imply) the word falsely, i.e., “falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater”, which was the original wording used in Holmes’s opinion and highlights that speech that is dangerous and false is not protected, as opposed to speech that is dangerous but also true.

      Is this their equivalent of shouting fire in a crowded theater?

  30. ewmayer

    o “Global Wealth Report 2017: Where Are We Ten Years after the Crisis? | Credit Suisse” — Why, risk-asset-bubble-inflating and weakth-inequality-aggravating our way to yet another, potentially much bigger (hello, China!) one, of course. Credit Suisse and its ilk profit from bth trends, natch.

    o “Meet the People Who Listen to Podcasts at Super-Fast Speeds | Buzzfeed” — Given a halfway-decent written transcript most of us can match or exceed that speed, without the process seeming like a competitive sport, and leaving us free to listen to somethng pleasing like music, or to nothing at all, at the same time. That’s why I almost never go near podcasts, and always ask, “got a transcript?” Transcripts also slash the required internet bandwidth. Call me a content fetishist, if you like.

  31. Oregoncharles

    “On The Origins of Russia-gate (PDF) Joe Lauria (YY). This is the article that HuffPo instantly surppressed, ”
    Yet there it is, linked on NC. I’ve bookmarked it for future use in tweaking Democrats, and signed the petition, but I’m puzzled:

    Why doesn’t he just shop it to another outlet? Granted, HuffPo probably has the longest reach, but there are plenty of others. Does HuffPo own it? I assume NC got it from Lauria; is there a reason you don’t just post it? It seems to be a good review of the state of play.

  32. ewmayer

    From the piece on Nightmare Bacteria:

    Researchers found what Hanage termed a “riot of diversity,” both among CRE species and among carbapenem resistance genes. They also found that resistance genes are moving easily from species to species, contributing to a continually evolving threat from CRE.

    In addition, the researchers found resistance mechanisms that hadn’t been seen before—implying that there are more to be discovered.

    And rampant antibiotic over-and-misuse, not just in hospitals and long-term-care settings but also in general practice and the livestock industry, guarantees that evolution will ‘discover’ them all.

  33. Oregoncharles

    “The NSA needs to stop hacking The Week. Important.”
    The leaks happened AFTER Snowden went walkabout. His most important revelation, and the real reasonhe was pursued so relentlessly, was that the National “Security” Administration’s INTERNAL security (ironically enough) was abysmal.

    Apparently the warning had little effect: either they were hacked, or someone else walked out with the REAL crown jewels, to everyone’s cost. The article isn’t radical enough: not only do they need to stop hacking (snicker), but they need to be completely renovated, with lots of people replaced. And ideally, just abolished.

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